Construction work to demolish and replace the City of Aiken's Laurens Street Bridge is expected to begin Monday and should be completed by late September, according to the S.C. Department of Transportation, meeting the completion deadline required to receive complete federal funding for the project.The bridge, which has been closed since a portion of it sunk due to heavy rains on April 2, is on schedule to be completely finished and opened to traffic by Sept. 28, said SCDOT program manager Kevin Gantt.The bridge was declared eligible for federal Emergency Relief funding, which includes a 100 percent reimbursement of federal funds for all repair and replacement work that occurs within the first 180 days, according to SCDOT. If work extends beyond the 180-day mark, the federal contribution would drop to 80 percent, and SCDOT would be responsible for picking up the 20 percent of the cost remaining, Gantt said."We'd like to see it done with the federal funding being at 100 percent and picking up all of it," Gantt said. "We think that is an achievable goal."Peter Poore with SCDOT said that the clock started ticking on the 180 days on April 10, when Gov. Nikki Haley signed an Executive Order declaring that an emergency situation existed at the bridge, and the Emergency Relief funding eligibility was set in motion.The replacement is expected to cost $2.5 million, according to SCDOT, and Crowder Construction has been chosen to perform the work.The new bridge will have an increased elevation of 23 feet from the bottom of the structure to the railroad track in accordance with new clearance requirements set by Norfolk Southern. The increased elevation will mean that once the project is completed, Colleton Avenue would still be accessible from Newberry Street, but the part of Colleton Avenue that intersects with Laurens Street would close permanently.While work is under way, the construction area will be fenced off on the north side of the bridge from the Christ Central driveway to the center median, and the southbound lane of Laurens Street will be two ways for the half block from the Christ Central driveway to the median cut through at Hoods Lane during construction, according to the City of Aiken.Gantt said that in the time since the incident occurred, SCDOT and the contractor have been talking with both the City of Aiken and Norfolk Southern regarding their necessary approvals for the construction, developing plans and acquiring equipment and materials.Utility relocation was required for SCE&G power lines and phone lines attached to the bridge, Gantt said.A portion of the bridge dropped more than a foot before the damaged concrete was removed from the bridge.Reporter Amy Banton contributed to this article.Anna Dolianitis is a reporter for the Aiken Standard. She covers the Department of Energy's Savannah River Site, as well as court and legal matters affecting Aiken County. She has been with the Aiken Standard since August 2010.
Notice about comments:
Aiken Standard is pleased to offer readers the enhanced ability to comment on stories. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point.